A four-part webinar series offered by Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Department of Forestry, and partners from Pennsylvania and Maryland will give green industry professionals the knowledge they need to provide natural area management services.

The “Natural Area Management Services Webinar Series” will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. Oct. 22 and 29, and Nov. 5 and 12. The program was created by the Woods in Your Backyard Partnership, which is comprised of Penn State Extension, University of Maryland Extension, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Course content is designed to provide green industry professionals with skills needed to provide additional services to clientele, noted Adam Downing, an Extension agent, who works in both urban and rural forestry arenas.

“The Woods in Your Backyard educational program has worked with small-acreage owners for many years and has learned a lot about the potential market for land-care services,” said Joe Lehnen, forest utilization & marketing specialist with the Virginia Department of Forestry, who explained that small-scale natural area management services include wildlife habitat enhancement, forestry practices such as chosen tree management, tree planting, and invasive pest control.

Webinar dates and topics are as follows:

  • Oct. 22: “Expanding Your Business: Land Care Practices on Small-Acreage Properties.” This introductory webinar addresses issues around improving woodland health and the motivations and interests of clientele for natural area services. It will provide an overview of land care practices, relevant certifications, and the potential benefits this can provide a business. Communication with clientele also will be discussed.
  • Oct. 29: “Land Care Practices for Woodland Health.” This webinar starts with a woodland ecology overview and the principles of succession. Land care practices such as converting lawn to the natural area along with managing riparian buffers, modifying and/or improving wildlife habitat, and chosen tree management will be discussed.
  • Nov. 5: “Land Care Practices for Woodland Health Continued.” This session features ways to improve privacy, aesthetics, create natural havens, improve recreational opportunities, and grow and harvest forest products. The use of integrated vegetation management, including how to control undesirable plants, herbicide selection, application methods, and invasive plant management will be reviewed.
  • Nov. 12: “Introduction to Woodland Health Assessment and Incorporating Woodland Health Practices into Your Business.” This webinar introduces the Woodland Health Assessment Checklist. This new checklist allows the green industry professional to help clients address issues with their property and identify management actions available. Other topics include how to develop a land care plan, marketing, and when to include a forestry professional for certain practices.

A resource manual, the “Woodland Health Practices Handbook,” and the specialized checklist tool have been developed to complement the training and are included with registration. To register, visit https://treesvirginia.org/events/paid/124-natural-area-management-services-webinar-series.

Continuing educations credits are available for the following: Society of American Foresters, International Society of Arboriculture, Virginia Certified Horticulturist, Virginia Association of Landscape Architect (pending), and Landscape Contractors Association (Maryland, Virginia, and District of Columbia).

More information can be obtained by contacting Adam Downing at 540-948-6881 or adowning@vt.edu or Joe Lehnen, 434-220-9018 or joe.lehnen@dof.virginia.gov.